Buzz on where the Miami Dolphins stand at every position on defense entering the NFL Draft

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In this piece on Friday, we sized up where the Miami Dolphins stand on offense entering the NFL Draft.

Here’s a look at where they stand on defense:

DEFENSIVE LINEMEN

ON THE 53-MAN ROSTER

Emmanuel Ogbah

Raekwon Davis

Christian Wilkins

Adam Butler

Zach Sieler

ON THE BUBBLE FOR THE 53

John Jenkins

Benito Jones

Jason Strowbridge

LESS THAN 50/50 FOR THE 53

Tyshun Render

Nick Coe

Jonathan Ledbetter

Comment: Butler essentially replaces Davon Godchaux; here’s what the Dolphins are getting with Butler.

Butler’s ability to play both nose tackle and defensive end in a 3-4 -- and Ogbah’s ability to play with his hand on the ground and standing up - give Miami options with regard to what kind of front seven player they select in this month’s NFL Draft.

While the Dolphins again could open games with Wilkins, Davis and Ogbah as their three-man front, there’s also a scenario where Butler could be starting games with Wilkins and Davis, with Ogbah in an outside linebacker role.

Sieler will get plenty of snaps after a very nice season in which he earned a contract extension.

Jenkins (signed Thursday) and Jones (47 defensively snaps as a rookie last season) likely will battle a rookie (added during or after the draft) for a backup defensive tackle job. Strowbridge, who can play end and tackle, played only 55 defensive snaps as a rookie last year and must make an impression this summer to stick.

LINEBACKERS

ON THE 53-MAN ROSTER

Jerome Baker

Andrew Van Ginkel

Benardrick McKinney

BETTER THAN 50/50 FOR THE 53 BUT NOT CERTAIN BY ANY MEANS

Vince Biegel

Duke Riley

Brennan Scarlett

Elandon Roberts

ON THE BUBBLE FOR THE 53

Calvin Munson

Sam Eguavoen

UNLIKELY TO MAKE THE 53

Kylan Johnson

Comment: McKinney and Baker should give the Dolphins a very capable pair of insider linebackers, two high volume tacklers who each have something impressive on their resume: a Pro Bowl (in McKinney’s case) and a 100-plus tackle, 7-sack season in Baker’s case. Baker was one of only two NFL linebackers to accomplish that feat last season.

Here’s what the Dolphins are getting in McKinney.

Re-signing Roberts - who’s hoping to return by the season opener after a knee injury in Week 16 - give the Dolphins the option to move McKinney to outside linebacker if the Dolphins do not find an edge player in the draft who they believe is ready to start.

Roberts started 11 games last season and played well against the run over the final two months; we don’t list him as automatic to make the team only because he must prove that his serious knee injury doesn’t leave him with diminished mobility.

While it’s more likely the Dolphins pick an edge player than an inside linebacker at No. 18 or No. 36, McKinney’s versatility (he can play inside and out) and Ogbah’s ability to play either as a hand-on-the-ground defensive end or as a standup edge player allow Miami to pick the best available defensive front seven player, period.

Van Ginkel played 46 percent of Miami’s snaps on defense last season and 72 percent of the Dolphins’ special teams snaps. Look for the special teams snaps to drop considerably and the defensive snaps to rise above 60 percent. It would be surprising if he’s not one of Miami’s starting edge players.

Here’s what the Dolphins are getting with Riley and Scarlett, who have each made more than 20 NFL starts. While both could make the 53, one could be at risk if the Dolphins add multiple edge players in the draft. Same with Biegel, who’s coming off a ruptured Achilles’.

Scarlett and Riley will get $637,500 guaranteed whether they make the team or not.

FYI: While the Texans restructured Shaq Lawson’s contract to save cap space, the Dolphins haven’t done so with McKinney, who was acquired for Lawson.

CORNERBACK

ON THE 53-MAN ROSTER

Xavien Howard

Byron Jones

Noah Igbinoghene

LIKELY ON THE 53

Justin Coleman

Nik Needham

ON THE BUBBLE FOR THE 53

Jamal Perry

UNLIKELY TO MAKE 53

Javaris Davis

Tino Ellis

Terrell Bonds

Comment: Don’t assume that Coleman will beat out Needham for the slot corner job. Coleman’s metrics were awful in 2020, as we explained here. Needham was solid for 15 games, abysmal in the finale against Buffalo.

It’s possible another boundary cornerback could be added in the draft, one who would press Igbinoghene and potentially Needham for the No. 3 job behind Howard and Jones. Here’s a look at where all of the Dolphins’ returning cornerbacks stand.

SAFETIES

ON THE 53-MAN ROSTER

Eric Rowe

Bobby McCain

Brandon Jones

ON THE BUBBLE FOR THE 53

Clayton Fejedelem

Nate Holley

UNLIKELY TO MAKE THE 53

Brian Cole

Comment: After mulling whether to make a change in the Rowe/McCain pairing, the Dolphins ultimately stuck with the duo that produced strong overall metrics in the passing game last season.

But the Dolphins still need to clear cap space, and McCain, Rowe and Fejedelem all have deals that create cap space if they’re released. (Not that we’re expecting anything with McCain or Rowe at this point, but it can’t entirely be ruled out if the Dolphins draft a safety. And Fejedelem stands at risk; his $2.5 million cap hit instantly disappears if he’s released.)

If Fejedelem sticks, he will compete with Holley - the former CFL Defensive Rookie of the Year - and likely a later-round or undrafted rookie for the fourth safety job.

Here’s where all the Dolphins’ safeties stand.

Here’s a look at where the Dolphins’ roster stands on offense entering the draft.

Here’s my Sunday piece on new Heat guard Victor Oladipo and exploring the biggest question about his game and his insight this weekend on his major injury.